Season of Docs/2019


Google Season of Docs is a program to foster collaboration between open source projects and technical writers. The main part of the 2019 Season of Docs will run for three months, from September to November 2019, but the application period for technical writers ends on 30 June 2019.

Please make sure to read through the information and application materials on the GSoD'19 website and this page before sending questions or completing a proposal for a project. Most of the questions you have will be answered in one of these two places.

You can interact with the admins and other technical writers who are proposing projects on our Zulip GSoD'19 stream.

2019 Timeline[edit]

  • April 2 – April 23: organizational application period
  • April 23 – April 29: Google reviews and approves organizations
  • April 30 – July 30: Technical writer exploration and application
  • August 6: Technical writing projects announced
  • August 7 – September 1: Community bonding
  • September 2 – December 6: Docs development through project finalization
  • December 10: Results announced

Potential technical writing projects for 2019 season[edit]

Technical Documentation

  • Find examples and create templates for genres of technical writing on Wikimedia projects (Ex. How-tos, Walk-throughs, User-Guides, etc). Use your templates to revise and improve existing documentation and to stand as an example for others in the future. (Document on this page:
  • Identify a Wikimedia technical project in need of technical documentation or improvement to technical documentation. Create a proposal that outlines how you would improve this area of technical documentation content.

Evaluate and recommend

  • Help others understand how to suggest improvements to technical documentation and how to contribute to improving technical documentation.
    • Evaluate, iterate, and test this draft process proposal:
    • Document your experience on-boarding as a technical writer on Wikimedia projects. What did you need to know? What tools did you need? How and where are things documented? How do you work with others and test your documentation and processes?
  • Research and propose a content strategy for a technical documentation content collection for a Wikimedia project.
  • Suggest a technical documentation project that covers evaluating current knowledge assets and content collections. Provide suggestions for improvements.

Audience research and user experience

  • Research audiences that use Mediawiki / Wikitech technical documentation. Who is using the technical documentation? How and why do they use it? Create a set of personas for the kinds of technical collaborators who are using our research and users we will want to reach out to. Provide a set of recommendations for creating technical documentation and resources for a variety of users. The report can discuss intersections (ways to reach out to a wider audience). It can also discuss recommendations to reach out to smaller segments.

Create resources for staff and volunteers

  • Create a set of short video walkthroughs and tutorials to help onboard new technical collaborators. (Ex. How to get started with Phabricator for Wikimedia technical projects. How to XYZ)
  • Curate and promote technical documentation tasks for hackathons and other developer events. Explore outstanding technical documentation tasks in Phabricator. Create technical documentation tasks that can be completed in a short time frame at hackathons and developer events. Create onboarding/quickstart documentation that new collaborators can use guide them through the process of improving and creating technical documentation.

Creating a viable and valuable proposal[edit]

We wanted to share some recommendations and tips for you to think about when preparing your proposal.


Make sure to read the guides available to you on the Season of Docs website. Pay careful attention to the section on "Creating your application"

Is Google Season of Docs right for you?[edit]

Before creating and submitting a proposal, please consider thoughtfully whether this program is right for you. GSoD is for technical writers who would like to learn more about how to participate and contribute to open source projects and for open source projects in need of technical writers with at least some prior experience.

If you already have a lot of experience working in open source, this may not be the right program for you. You may still apply, but consider areas of open source that you still want to learn about and explore.

If you do not have any prior experience as a technical writer (as a student, volunteer or as a professional), this may not be the right program for you. We are looking for individuals with demonstrated experience contributing to and working on technical writing projects.

We welcome all proposals, and we want to be realistic with potential technical writers about the viability of those proposals. This year, we are only able to work with one technical writer. There will be some competition.

Solid technical writing is very important to the success of our open source projects, and we have a long-term commitment to make it a priority. There will be many opportunities to contribute to technical documentation projects in the future, whether through GSoD or other initiatives.


  • Browse the suggested technical writing projects and think about what might work for you. Many of these are not very detailed, yet, because we want to make sure that the project you propose fits your skill set, challenges you, and also creates a valuable contribution to our open source project.
  • Communicate with us, if you have questions or ideas. We will do our best to help guide you in the right direction. As we select candidates for our projects, we will be thinking a lot about the kinds of communications we had during the proposal projects.
  • Check, double check, and triple check your grammar and style. This is important for your proposal, your project, and in your interactions with us and community members.
  • Unless some information you wish to share with us is truly private, we prefer to work out in the open. Please make sure your questions are asked publicly in the Zulip chat, so that project admins and participants can have the opportunity to answer and benefit from your questions and thoughts.

Notes about the proposal period[edit]

As the proposal period begins, we want to reiterate:

A few thoughts:

Please remember, for this program, we are looking for a technical writer who wants to gain knowledge and proficiency working in open source projects. Even if you don't (yet) have a large amount of experience as a technical writer, this will be your role in GSoD'19, and you should approach your proposal from this perspective. We have provided some project ideas, but as the technical writer, it is up to you to refine these ideas and propose a project that you'll enjoy working on and learning from, that will challenge you, and that will benefit our open source project. Good communication is a key skill for technical writers, and we encourage and invite you to reach out while you are drafting your proposal with specific questions about your ideas.

We have had a number of folks ask us to provide examples or a template for their proposal. Because we are looking for a demonstration of your skills as a writer, we are not providing examples or templates for GSoD'19 proposals. An important skill for technical writers to have is the ability to research and synthesize. We encourage you to find examples of proposal structures that you think would work well or to develop your own proposal structure. We would like to see how you approach the task of organizing your thoughts and how you would propose the project in your own words.

Wikimedia's technical writers rely on a style guide to make sure their work is cohesive and consistent. Please make sure your proposal follows these guidelines as closely as possible:

Correct spelling, grammar, and style are important. Please make sure to review your writing, both in your proposal and your personal communications with us and each other, for errors. That said, we do understand every person makes mistakes, and while we are writing in English for GSoD'19, English is not every person's first language. As admins, we are far more interested in writers with cogent, clear ideas and communication skills, than perfect writers or speakers of English. We invite you to apply, even if you don’t feel fully confident speaking and writing in English.

Do rely on each other and the project admins. Technical writers often work together. It is okay to ask questions and share ideas with each other. We are an open source project, and we do our work in the open for others to see, share, and learn from. We look forward to seeing how you support each other and collaborate over the next month.

Remember, this is not the only opportunity to work with Wikimedia on focused technical projects. We provide many opportunities throughout the year for internships and mentoring. We can only choose one technical writer for this round of GSoD'19, but there will be future opportunities to work together.

We are so excited to participate in this program, and we hope you are, too!

Contact methods[edit]

Please feel free to reach out to us with questions. We like to work in the open and together with our community. Following are the best methods to reach us with questions and for official announcements.

  1. Zulip - (PLEASE NOTE: Zulip is the best way to contact Wikimedia's Google Season of code admins.)
  2. Google Group -

Organizational application[edit]

Additional information used as part of our application process with Google: